Friday

26th Apr 2019

France, Ireland scoop top posts in EU diplomatic corps

  • Mr Vimont is currently France's ambassador to the US (Photo: SETH BROWARNIK/RED EYE PRODUCTIONS)

French career diplomat Pierre Vimont and Irish EU official David O'Sullivan are to take two of the top posts in the European External Action Service (EEAS).

EEAS chief Catherine Ashton made the highly anticipated announcement at an EU foreign ministers' meeting in Luxembourg on Monday (25 October) after a final agreement between member states, MEPs and her own bureau on the legal architecture of the corps.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

"I promised to appoint the brightest and best and in Pierre Vimont as the executive secretary general, and David O'Sullivan as chief operating officer I have done just that. Pierre is held in the highest regard by the diplomatic community and will bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise on foreign policy issues. David has served in the highest capacity in the European Commission, as well as having a diplomatic background," she said in a written statement.

The communiqué added that the rest of the EEAS top posts "will be filled in the coming weeks." But EU diplomats expect two more big nominations to come out before the weekend.

The main outstanding appointments include two deputy secretary generals, five managing directors and the head of its intelligence and crisis-management unit, known as the Joint Situation Centre. The five directors will cover Africa; Asia; post-Soviet and western Balkan countries; North and South America; and human rights and UN relations. Another 80-or-so senior postings to overseas EU embassies are also in the pipeline.

German EU official Helga Schmid and Poland's Maciej Popowski, currently working as head of the European Parliament President's cabinet, are being talked about in Brussels as the two likely deputy secretary generals.

German EU official Gunnar Wiegand and the Swedish EU special representative for south Caucasus, Peter Semneby, have applied to run the post-Soviet/Balkans department. The head of Finland's intelligence services, Ilkka Salmi, is said to be a leading contender for the Joint Situation Centre post.

Ms Ashton's accent on hiring the "brightest and best" candidates had to be weighed up alongside a need to have geographic and institutional balance in the EEAS cadre.

The service must ensure backing from Berlin, Paris and London in order to have clout on the world stage. The EU's newer countries and its smaller members have clamoured for places at the top table. MEPs have also called on Ms Ashton to hire commission staff to protect the "communitarian" nature of the new institution.

Ms Ashton's Monday statement noted that the 61-year-old Mr Vimont has in the past served as chief of staff to three French foreign ministers and was French ambassador to the EU during the French presidency of the bloc in 2000. It recalled that the 57-year-old Mr O'Sullivan has previously run the European Commission's education and trade departments, was head of cabinet for former commission president Romano Prodi and was commission secretary general.

The two men will each earn at least €16,600 a month.

The Vimont job description says he will be "responsible for the formulation and implementation of policy," ensuring "the smooth functioning of the EAS," chairing meetings in Ms Ashton's absence and "maintaing relations" with EU members and countries beyond the EU. The Brussels-based post includes "extensive travel."

Mr O'Sullivan is to be responsible for "administrative and budgetary management ... strategic communications ... human and financial resources." He will also "provide strategic policy guidance" and undertake "missions" from time-to-time on Ms Ashton's behalf.

EU want Facebook pan-EU advert fix for May elections

EU institutions want Facebook to relax its rules, to allow pan-European political groups to carry out EU-wide campaigns. Facebook has yet to implement the demands - posing questions on the extent to which Europe relies on the US tech firm.

Lobby register transparency talks collapse

Efforts to set up a better transparency register for lobbyists have collapsed after two years of talks. The impasse revolves around the European Commission's insistence that the register also become mandatory for the European Parliament and Council.

Exclusive

EU bodies dodge questions on secret VW loan report

The European Anti-Fraud Office (Olaf) and the European Investment Bank (EIB) have refused to answer detailed questions about the demand from the European Ombudsman to publish an Olaf report on a €400m EIB loan Volkswagen Group (VW) received through deception.

Exclusive

EIB 'maladministration' verdict over VW fraud report

EUobserver should have been granted access to a fraud investigation into a €400m EU loan to Volkswagen Group (VW), and recommendations on how to avoid future misuse, the European Ombudsman has concluded.

News in Brief

  1. EU: Russian citizenship plan 'attacks' Ukraine sovereignty
  2. Deutsche Bank hands over Trump loan documents
  3. UN: Europe is badly prepared for new refugee crisis
  4. Macron to set out 'Yellow vest' counter measures
  5. Italy requests EU action plan for new Libya migrant wave
  6. Far-right party leaders meet in Prague
  7. Priest shames politicians at reporter's funeral in Belfast
  8. Putin offers Russian citizenship to Ukraine regions

Magazine

The changing of the guards in the EU in 2019

The four most powerful EU institutions - Commission, Parliament, Council and Central Bank will all have new leaders in the coming ten months. Here is an overview.

Magazine

Explained: What is the European Parliament?

While domestic political parties often use the European Parliament as a dumping ground for unwanted politicians - and a majority of citizens don't bother to vote - the parliament, over the years, has become a dominant force in the EU.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  2. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  3. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  4. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  9. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  10. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan

Latest News

  1. Greens commit to air quality 'super commissioner'
  2. Far-right Facebook networks removed before Spain election
  3. EU and Japan in delicate trade talks
  4. Closer EU-Caribbean ties mean greater prosperity for all
  5. Details of EU Brexit talks with Blair and Soros kept secret
  6. Weber vows to block Nord Stream 2 amid 'sue' threat
  7. 'Next Juncker' must fix EU's corporate power problem
  8. EU want Facebook pan-EU advert fix for May elections

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  6. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  7. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  8. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  9. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  11. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  12. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us